TROY, N.Y. -- Activists are renewing their cry for tougher penalties in animal abuse cases. The group is gaining steam from owners of victims, a local lawmaker, and News10's Steve Caporizzo.
Champions of Buster's Law met at Hudson Valley Community College Monday, ten years after the law was first signed, to discuss harsher penalties for animal abusers. Advocates say we've come a long way, but that the law doesn't go far enough to protect animals and humans.
"Those who commit abuse and cruelty to animals are just a step away from doing the same to humans," said Donna Reynolds, an animal law student at HVCC.
Students, activists, and Assemblyman James Tedisco say the need to expand Buster's Law is long overdue.
"Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Dahmer, all the serial murderers had a history of abusing animals and the FBI shows it's a part of the profile," Tedisco said.
Buster's Law made the killing of a companion animal a felony in 1999. The owner of the Schenectady cat tortured by fire says Buster did not die in vain.
"Buster survived three weeks, and I think it was so everyone could hear that cry," Buster's owner, Nancy Bonesteel, said.
But not all animals are included in the law. Dawn Feathers showed the crowd gruesome photos of the murder of her horse, Skye. Most of the killer's jail time, however, came from a burglary charge.
"She had seven or eight stab wounds on the left side that went all over the place," Feather said.
This group wants to see more jail time than the two years allowed under Buster's Law. They also want the law to include all animals, to bar offenders from owning any pets and force them to undergo psychological evaluations.
"I think it's frustrating for anybody that's an animal lover to see so many stories in the news over the past few years, and you don't see the prosecution, you don't see the penalties being as strict as they should be for the crime that's committed on a beautiful animal," said Steve Caporizzo, News10's chief meteorologist who is active in addressing animal rights issues.
Assemblyman Tedisco is urging supporters to start petitions and send letters to lawmakers. He's even asking for input on specific language to include in a new bill.
Buster's Law languished for about ten years before it actually became law. People in Troy Monday night hoped their grassroots efforts will speed up some of those changes.